Tesla Motors has introduced a prototype of the 2015 Model X crossover, its third all-electric model behind the Roadster and the Model S sedan. The seven-passenger Model X promises to be more versatile and family-friendly than the Model S, and will double the size of Tesla?s current U.S. lineup when it eventually goes on sale sometime in early 2015. (Remember that the Roadster, being based on the Lotus Elise, lost its federal safety exemption and is no longer being sold in the U.S.)
As expected?based on a recent teaser image?the Model X looks a lot like a Model S that has been stretched vertically. Its grille, headlights, taillights, and general contours are similar to the sedan?s. Even the two cars? dashboards are nearly identical, with the X inheriting the S?s giant, 17-inch central touch screen and reconfigurable gauge cluster. However, the Model X has two key differences: a set of rear ?falcon-wing? doors and a forward-facing third row of seats. (The Model S?s optional way-back row consists of a pair of rear-facing jump seats accessed through the hatch.) Tesla claims this pair of upward-swinging doors eases ingress and egress to both the second and third rows.
Tesla?s Model X vows to be the greenest way to tote seven passengers over hill and dale. A 259-hp electric motor powers the front wheels; a 503-hp rear-mounted motor powers the rear wheels for all-wheel drive. Expect one choice at first: a 90-kWh Model X with a 257-mile range that can hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph. The Model X should inherit the high-tech cabin from the Model S and the upward-swinging ?Falcon Wing? doors from the concept.